Bastille at Brixton Academy
Bastille had no problem selling out the O2 Academy in Brixton, illustrating their sustained popularity since their lauded debut album six years ago. Impressively, time has not dulled Dan Smith’s vitalism on stage and a matured look showed a group ready for a vibrant return.
The cavernous venue can often pose a problem for support acts, especially with disinterested onlookers waiting frustratedly for the main event. However, the grungy overtones of Ulysses Wells set a riotous pace, albeit one lacking in the complexity of their creative namesakes. Despite the emphatic tambourine playing, this was unfortunately the right band in the wrong place, undercut by the slightly jarring transition to Lewis Capaldi. Capaldi’s slightly muffled vocals still managed to strike a chord with the crowd as his Ed Sheeran brand of pumping acoustic floor-fillers injected some life into the subdued audience.
An enormous AV screen added to the scale and grandeur of Bastille’s show, although arbitrary slogans like “simple human pleasures” and vague cityscapes provided little context to the performance. Frontman Smith – now with a shaved head and sporting a brightly emblazoned jacket – leapt around the stage with unbridled energy, occasionally stopping to offer admonishment about Nigel Farage and Donald Trump. Rousing performances of tracks like The Currents and The Things We Lost in the Fire illustrated Bastille’s resilience in an indie-pop scene with such a relentless turnover. Part of their sustained success must surely come from their indie-as-dance aesthetic as the booming bass of Brixton Academy, at times overwhelming, whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
This was a masterclass in big room pop, more EDM than anything, which culminated in a performance of Happier, 2018’s collaboration with dance superstar Marshmello. Likewise, their seminal cover of Corona’s Rhythm of the Night still retained a sense of excitement by virtue of the lead singer’s impassioned delivery and the crowd’s equally passionate response. However, what became clear was that many of the show’s high points came from 2013’s Bad Blood, particularly Pompeii and the show finale Flaws, raising the question as to whether the ensemble have synth-drummed themselves into a creative corner.
It’s no mean feat to fill Brixton Academy with people and passion, yet Smith and co seemed to revel in the ease of it. Running through their slightly repetitive repertoire, the band appeared on good form ahead of the release of their third studio album, while the powerful reaction of their fans shows they’re still a force to be reckoned with.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Bastille’s website here.
Watch the video for Fake It here: